ABERDEEN, Wash. – Tom Cruise was to walk down a 175-foot red carpet from a parking lot road to the entrance of a shopping mall theater Tuesday for a makeshift screening of his new film, "Mission: Impossible III."
This blue-collar timber town near the Washington coast had been feverishly preparing for Cruise, whose scheduled visit with a contest winner was expected to draw thousands. (The red carpet had been provided by a Seattle event planner.)
Cruise was expected to greet fans and curious onlookers before attending a private screening at the SouthShore Mall Cinemas with contest winner Kevin McCoy. McCoy had invited 150 friends to meet Cruise and watch the movie.
McCoy was the winner of an e-mail contest sponsored by Paramount Pictures and Yahoo. He was randomly selected after answering five questions about the 43-year-old actor.
Those at the mall were likely a mix of those who truly feel Cruise is "the most exciting and successful movie star in the world," as his promoters declare in press releases, and those who were just curious.
The "Mission: Impossible III" star has been making headlines recently with his off-screen antics, including preaching his Scientology beliefs and jumping up and down on a couch as he professed his love for fiancee Katie Holmes during an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Two radio stations had planned to hold an Oprah-style couch-jumping contest in their joint parking lot Tuesday, but dropped the idea after they said Paramount asked them not to.
Mayor Pro Tem Bill Simpson said he would present Cruise with a pamphlet on famous people from Aberdeen, a book on the history of the town and a plaque welcoming him to the community. The city also had declared it "Tom Cruise Day" and made Cruise an honorary resident, he said.
"It's great for the city," Simpson said. "It's given us a chance to showcase what Aberdeen is all about."
Not everyone, however, was so high with anticipation. For the more jaded among Aberdeen's 17,000 or so residents, the business of making a living would grind on long after Cruise had bounded back onto his private jet.
"I will not be there," supermarket worker Tanya Murray told The (Aberdeen) Daily World last week. "I couldn't care less that he's coming. I like his movies, it's just everything else. He seems to be such a jerk."
In recent decades, the coastal fishery and the logging industry have been hard hit, and the region has been trying to diversify its economy.
"The fishing is gone, the logging is gone," Simpson said. "But we still have come back to be the great city that we are."